Long Beach Public Library Dedicates New Children’s Library

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation will host a celebration ceremony Friday, May 13, dedicating the new children’s library to the John and Helen Apostle Foundation.

The event will be held at KidSpace in the Billie Jean King Main Library at 11:15 AM to commemorate a $1 million dollar donation from the late couple’s foundation to support the development of the library. The funding was the most significant pledge amount the Library Foundation has received since its New Main Campaign.

The New Main Campaign, co-chaired by former tennis star Billie Jean King and City Mayor Robert Garcia, raised over $3.3 million dollars for technology, programs, and enhancements for KidSpace. This comes along with the support of over 500 community members, including local book clubs, foundations, and other organizations.

“It comes when Long Beach youth need support to improve their reading capabilities and succeed in school. We are proud to honor John and Helen Apostle with this beautiful display in the Billie Jean King Main Library,” said Veronica Dávalos, Executive Director and CEO of the Library Foundation.

According to a report from the Long Beach Unified School District, released in February of 2022, during the first in-person school year since the pandemic began, over 60 percent of elementary and middle school students read below grade level.

Funding will enable the library to hire new bilingual staff who can design and implement new literature programs for kids in Spanish and English, such as Dive into Reading/Sumérgete a Leer, Circle of Stories/Círculo de Cuentos, and Cuentos y Cantos. 

Half of the funds will be used to establish the John and Helen Apostle Endowed Fund for Children. The $1 million gift had been donated over the course of ten years.

“Helen Apostle had been giving over the course of her lifetime to the Library Foundation, and even after her death, we were still delighted to know that she was still giving at a much greater level,” said Erica Bradley, Deputy Executive Director of Development for the Library Foundation.   

The Apostle Foundation has been a contributing partner with the Long Beach Community Foundation for over 15 years. Its mission is to improve the lives of residents of Long Beach, CA, through the support of nonprofit organizations and programs in social services, education, and arts and sciences, particularly those that impact children.

The KidSpace will display a plaque dedicated to John and Helen Apostle and a new art mural depicting dolphins leaping through waves, in addition to the latest Storytime theater.  

All KidSpace resources are available during operating hours. Visit the Library’s website at longbeach.gov/library for information about additional library programs and events.

By Carter Williams II

Photo credit: Long Beach Public Library Foundation